March 18, 2013

When to Send

photo: The Stakhanovite Twins

We get asked this a lot, “When is the best time to send out my newsletter?” The short reply is usually this: Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday between 9:45 and 10:15am.

Then one Thursday morning I received 4 newsletters at exactly 9:45am.

The fact is there is no magic answer - no set of best practices or generally accepted principles. There are lots of opinions though and we've seen many of them disproved through our own work.

If you review overall average e-marketing statistics for time of day and day of week, no real trends stand out. See an example below.


At first I found that kind of surprising but now it makes total sense - because email marketing is so diverse. More specific statistics, such as industry averages, offer some insight... but who wants to be average?

This is why it's so important to know your target market!
  • Where will your subscribers be when they receive your newsletter: at home, at work, or on the road?
  • When, during a typical day or week, are they most likely to take the time to open your newsletter? And when will they have the time to read it and act on it?
Here are some things that impact the answers to those questions.
  • Are your subscribers consumers or businesses (B2C vs. B2B)?
  • Are you sending a promotional email or an informational email?
  • To add to the confusion, what time zone are they in? Are they all in one or widely distributed? Where are the bulk of them?
What about social media? Is your reach broader there? Consider the best time to post your newsletter on Twitter or Facebook - that will impact your strategy around auto-posting.

Tip: Social media analytic tools can give you some good intelligence about when to send your newsletter in addition to when to post.

Does it really matter?


Now that I've asked more questions than I've answered, you’re probably wondering if it’s really worth all this deep thought and research. That answer is a definite YES. In our search for the magic answer, we've come across all kinds of examples. Here’s one of our own.

A couple of years ago, our subscriber list was just shy of 1000 with 95% of the subscribers in NS. It was a Thursday and I was late getting our newsletter ready for issue. I knew that if it didn't get out on Thursday, I’d have to wait till Tuesday. I was impatient and sent it out about 3:30pm. Big mistake! Our open rate dropped by over 10%.

That may not sound like such a big deal till you consider the math. Our open rate was consistently about 35% at that time. Take that down to a 22% open rate and we lost well over 100 readers on that issue. That’s significant for a small list. Think of the impact on a large list of several thousand.

This is also an example of why it’s so important to stick with a schedule once you go through all the trouble to create it! And it shows you that it’s important to review your email statistics so you know what is and isn't working.
 

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